NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — John Idzik shook Rex Ryan’s hand and the two shared a big laugh in front of more than a dozen cameras.
Woody Johnson was all smiles, too, as his new general manager spoke about rebuilding the New York Jets into a playoff team.
Well, Idzik certainly has quite a task ahead of him.
“I feel that here in New York, we’re going to be all-in,” Idzik said at his introductory news conference Thursday. “All together.”
But will that include Ryan, considered by many fans and media a lame-duck coach, beyond this season? How about struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez? Or, Tim Tebow? What about injured star cornerback Darrelle Revis, who has become the subject of trade speculation?
“I’m literally hours into the building,” Idzik said. “That, we’re going to save for our evaluation process.”
Idzik declared his first order of business is to review the Jets’ entire roster and decide who stays, who goes and who they need to come in and be part of the solution.
The general manager’s introduction wasn’t a hit with everyone.
“This was, for an opening press conference, somewhere between awful and disappointing,” said WFAN afternoon drive host Mike Francesa. “It was not (a) disaster, but it was close. It was anything but forceful … Nothing in anything you heard would make anybody confident.”
Idzik spent some time earlier in the week with Ryan and several other members of the Jets’ staff in Mobile, Ala., where they attended Senior Bowl workouts and got to know each other a bit. The relationship between Idzik and Ryan will be an intriguing one, especially since some considered having a coach already in place for an incoming GM a possible drawback.
“I look forward to working with Rex Ryan,” Idzik said. “That, to me, was a plus.”
Johnson said Idzik would play a role in deciding Ryan’s fate after this season.
“That’s a collaborative decision between John and I,” Johnson said, “but John will certainly have something to say.”
Idzik also inherits a roster that includes one of the league’s top defensive players in Revis, who is recovering from a serious knee injury and has a contract that voids after the 2013 season. Revis also wants to be paid big money, fit for a player Ryan has repeatedly called one of the best he has ever coached. But a report Wednesday night said Johnson, concerned that the Jets won’t be able to re-sign Revis next year, wants to explore trade options rather than risk losing him for nothing as a free agent next winter.
That talk had an angry Revis taking to Twitter on Thursday afternoon, saying he was “speechless” about the trade rumors but was “more upset for the jet nation for having to go through this!!!” The cornerback also added: “I guess we’ll see how this plays out.”
Johnson would neither confirm nor deny that the report was true, adding that he didn’t know where it came from.
“I think it’s way premature to say anything specific,” said Idzik, who will have the final say on all personnel decisions.
He said the same for the future of Sanchez, who’s due $8.25 million in guarantees next season and would cost the Jets a $17.1 million cap hit if they cut him.
“We just need to take our time and evaluate Mark, along with everyone else,” Idzik said.
Sanchez struggled mightily in 2012, and will be working with his third offensive coordinator in as many seasons as Marty Mornhinweg replaced the fired Tony Sparano. Ryan confirmed Sanchez is talking with former quarterback Jeff Garcia to help him pick up Mornhinweg’s offense.
“He needs to erase his hard drive,” Ryan said.
Tebow is not expected back after one disappointing and unproductive season, but there’s one intriguing twist: The Jets just hired David Lee as their quarterbacks coach. Lee is credited with reviving the wildcat offense — the role in which Tebow was expected to be a force for the Jets — in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins as few years ago.
“We’ll explore every measure to bring in talent and continue to compete,” Idzik said. “The draft will be very important to us. That will be a lifeline for us, year in and year out. We’ll use free agency and we’ll be very thoughtful, do our research and be judicious in free agency. We’ll use trades, we’ll use waiver claims, work from our practice roster and have numerous tryouts throughout the year in search of guys who play like a Jet.”
But New York is also about $19 million over the salary cap, which could limit how Idzik will be able to operate. Cutting some veterans with hefty salaries such as linebackers Calvin Pace and Bart Scott could be part of the solution.
“I never saw the salary cap situation here as a hindrance,” said Idzik, adding that he’s confident the Jets can have “fruitful” offseason. “It’s something you research, pore through and evaluate.”
Idzik, hired to replace the fired Mike Tannenbaum last Friday after a two-week search by the Jets that included 10 candidates, had been with the Seahawks the past six seasons after previously working in the front offices of Tampa Bay and Arizona. His primary strengths include managing salaries and the salary cap, but he has also worked in player personnel — a combination that attracted the Jets.
The 52-year-old Idzik, Seattle’s ex-vice president of football administration, didn’t delve into specifics but rather spoke about his broad vision for the franchise he is now charged with resuscitating.
“It will be based on a collaborative effort,” said Idzik, wearing an appropriate green and black checkered tie. “It will be inclusive, well thought out and well researched. And, it will be the power of ‘we.'”
The Jets have also been perceived by many fans and media as having a circuslike atmosphere because of the headlines the franchise seems to constantly make off the field: trading for Tebow, Ryan’s tattoo of his wife in a Sanchez jersey to name just a few.
“There seems to be a lot of misperceptions,” Idzik said. “I don’t sense dysfunction or anything like that.”
Idzik, a native of Detroit, graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth in 1982 and played wide receiver for the Big Green. He and wife Carol have a daughter and two sons, including Bradley, a sophomore wide receiver at Wake Forest. Idzik’s father John was the Jets’ offensive coordinator from 1976-79.
“Football,” Idzik said, “is at the root of who I am.”
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